About Supervised Ministry Program
The Drew Theological School faculty has long recognized the importance of experiential learning in relationship to preparation for full-time Christian services in the Church and the world. Because of that recognition, Supervised Ministerial Practice is a requirement in the Master of Divinity Program.
This requirement, which is normally fulfilled in the second year of study, involves a nine(9) month placement in a ministry setting in which the student works under the close supervision of a seasoned pastor and a lay evaluative committee called the “Teaching Committee.”
Through regular conversations with the supervisor and lay committee, seminarians are enabled to discuss issues vitally important to the practice of ministry in today’s church and to make new discoveries about themselves as ministering persons.
The website is intended to introduce you to our program in the hope that you and your church will become involved in the training of a seminarian. It is our belief that your work with our students is itself an act of ministry for you are helping a child of God to “grow up into Christ” and to discover with greater clarity the vocational direction in which God is calling him her. In so doing, you are in ministry to the future church and world in an important and exciting way.
Requirements of Supervised Ministry
The Master of Divinity degree program at Drew Theological School is an eighty-four(84) credit degree. Students take required courses in Bible, Church History, Theology and Ethics, Church and Society, and Pastoral Theology. The Supervised Ministry Requirement is for six(6) of these credits.
When a student registers for Supervised Ministry, it is understood that he/she will be working in a church for an academic year and at the same time enrolled in the required Seminar on Supervised Ministerial Practice. Students must work in ministry settings for a minimum of 12-15 hours per week to receive credit. Working fewer hours significantly contributes to a feeling of “being a visitor” to the setting instead of helping the student to know and be known by the community of faith.
To assist students in the process of vocational clarification that is central to this experiential learning program, we hope our students will be exposed to the multiplicity of tasks and opportunities facing the pastoral leader. Administration, pastoral care, education, worship, outreach ministry and spiritual formation are some areas in which our students need experience and guided reflection if they are to become better able to offer leadership in the future.
It is expected that the student will be assigned responsibility for a given program area in the church. He/she might be asked to take responsibility for the education area and be expected to resource teachers in addition to teaching a class. Perhaps the students might be asked to organize and lead a lay visitation program, or to work in the area of youth ministry.
Regardless of the primary area in which the student works, it is our hope that he/she will be encouraged and allowed to work in other areas as time allows. No student should finish Supervised Ministry without having made, for example, pastoral visitations in homes and hospitals, assisted in leading worship frequently, preached at least three times in the nine month period, participated in planning and leading funeral services, and attended various committee meetings in order to better understand the polity of the church.
This broad exposure will help everyone involved in the evaluation process of the program to be better informed about the student’s abilities and aptitude for ministry.
One of the primary means of growth for the novice in any vocation is the evaluative process. Theologically understood, evaluation can be a means of grace at it enables the one being evaluated to see the self more clearly and to improve one’s work in helpful and redemptive ways.
In order to help our students see themselves more clearly as ministering persons, the Theological School has in place some structures of accountability. A brief description of these follows:
Learning/ Serving Covenant- This important document written early in the semester serves as a reference point for the academic year. It includes both the responsibilities of the student in the church and the student’s learning goals. It goes beyond a job description and invites the student to take responsibility for his/her own learning by stating what the goals are in terms of knowledge gained. It is contractual in nature and it cannot be changed without all participants (students, supervisor, teaching committee) agreeing to the change. It also contains the terms of employment (dates of service, remuneration). The document is available here.
Supervisory Conferences – Students will be expected to meet with the supervisor at least once every two weeks for a session of 60-90 minutes. The purpose of these sessions will be to assist the student to think critically about ministry in general along with his or her practice of ministry in the setting.
Teaching Committee – The Teaching Committee, made up of five to seven lay people in the church or agency meets with the student monthly for the academic year. The Committee meetings serve as reflection groups in which issues facing the church or agency are discussed. The student’s ministry is also examined in some detail each month. These meetings, then, assist the student to understand and appreciate the vital role laity play in the ministry of the church at the same time they help the student to see himself/herself more cleary in the ministerial office.
Evaluation Forms - Students are evaluated twice during the academic year. The December and April meetings of the Teaching Committee are to be set aside to do an overall evaluation of the student’s work to date. Evaluation forms are available here.
Summary of Requirement
Churches and agencies participating in Supervised Ministry Program agree to provide the following:
- Loving support and honest feedback to the student serving in the setting.
- Monthly meetings of a Teaching Committee organized at the beginning of the academic year.
- Bi-weekly supervision by the pastor of the church or other experienced pastor.
- Collaboration with the student on the final form of the Leaning/Serving Covenant.
- Evaluation forms completed by teaching committee members, supervisor, and student that are returned to Drew after they are discussed with the student.
A Word About Remuneration
Many churches have asked about payment for student’s work in the church. It is our belief that students should be paid for their work and that this arrangement fosters accountability on the part of the student and the church. Many churches now pay students close to $4,000.00 for the academic year. While some congregations have difficulty raising that amount, most are able to pay something for the student’s work.
It is the conviction of the Theological School that the proper way to understand the employment of a student is to see it as an act of mission to the present and future church. This perspective has helped some churches raise money that might otherwise not be raised for the position. If the Director can be of help in interpreting this dimension of having a student work in the church, please do not hesitate to be in touch with us.